Ganga Devi Shrestha is a friendly face to see in Sindhuli. With her beaming smile and welcoming heart, she is someone who brings people together.

Originally from Chitwan – famous for its stunning national park – Ganga moved to a small village in Sindhuli called Deuralitar 20 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then, and Ganga was elected as Vice Mayor for the Golonjor Village Committee in the May 2017 local elections.

Ganga Shrestha 2.jpg
Ganga in Gwaltar, the village where she works

Ganga has always been passionate about making a difference and contributing to her community. She believes that is important to treat people well, not be jealous and never thinking negatively about anyone. Her smile and personality is infectious.

Her recent move into politics has opened up new doors to helping her community. As Vice Mayor, she wants to improve hospitals, boost road infrastructure, get quality teachers for schools and increase tourism. All of this she faces with optimism: the local elections of 2017 brought big budget increases to local authorities and they have increased autonomy over how these budgets can be used. It is a really exciting time for local authorities in Nepal.

The political opportunity to make a difference is all the more special given the effect of the 2015 earthquake. The 8.0 magnitude quake which wrought huge destruction in Nepal also took its toll in Sindhuli. Many died or were injured and scores of houses were destroyed leaving people homeless: “It was heartbreaking” said Ganga. She was part of the Village Development Committee which was formed to coordinate a response, and the memories and effects of the quake are still raw.

Damaged House.jpg
The effects of the 2015 earthquake are still visible

But looking forward, Ganga’s optimism and passion for Sindhuli are clear. Although there are things that could improve – she mentions that girls have few opportunities in the area – she sees huge potential in the district. From the colourful temples and historic Sindhuli Ghadi site, to water-rafting adventures and stunning views, Sindhuli has a lot to offer. It is the natural beauty and peace that Ganga loves most.

And this potential excites Ganga about the futureTourism can boost income in the area, ensuring that no one gets left behind as Sindhuli grows.

And, if you ever want to visit, you’ll be sure to receive a heartfelt, “Welcome!” from Ganga!